Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka signed a seven-year contract worth $155 million with the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Add in the $20 million posting fee, and the Bronx Bombers committed $175 million to the Japanese right-hander.
The contract includes an opt-out clause that can be exercised after the 2017 season. Tanaka was also given a full no-trade clause.
Winner of the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award the past two seasons, Tanaka posted a 1.27 ERA and a 24-0 record with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013.
The total value of Tanaka’s contract ranks as the fifth-highest for a pitcher in Major League history — behind Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia.
The free-agent market’s most coveted arm, Tanaka also received serious interest from the Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Astros and D-backs.
The Cubs could be going younger very soon.
According to ESPNChicago.com, Jeff Samardzija continues to command interest and the Blue Jays are putting together a package of prospects in preparation to make an offer.
Speaking on SiriusXM radio, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos didn’t deny discussions regarding Samardzija. The Blue Jays certainly could use a boost to the starting staff after just two starters reached 140 innings last year, and none had an ERA below 4.15.
Samardzija has a 4.10 ERA over two full seasons as a starter. His 9.1 strikeout-per-nine-inning rate is better than any current Blue Jay starter posted last year.
The 28-year-old is set to hit the free agent market after 2015 and reports have indicated a contract extension may be difficult to agree upon.
A few more notes around the league Saturday:
— The Cardinals’ deal with shortstop Jhonny Peralta will be for four years, a little more than $52 million, according to FOX Sports.
— The Marlins are showing interest in former Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes and former Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro, according to the Miami Herald.
— The Red Sox are dealing with competition in the market for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. According to the Boston Globe, the Twins have interest in Saltalamacchia after making the decision to move Joe Mauer to first base. The Globe also reports a deal is still possible that would involve sending Mark Trumbo from the Angels to the Red Sox, presumably for starting pitching.
— After agreeing to a contract with Brian McCann (who was presented a qualifying offer by the Braves) and forfeiting a draft pick in the process, the Yankees are now set up to pursue other top-tier free agents, according to ESPN.com. The Yankees could now go after Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales, Ervin Santana or others tied to draft pick compensation since they’ve already lost a pick. And if one of their free agents who were presented qualifying offers signs with another team, they’ll receive a pick in return.
— Jason Mastrodonato
Former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee will interview for the same position on the staff of new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.
The Yankees may be trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold in 2014, but the word in the lobby at the General Managers Meetings is that it hasn’t stopped them from looking at the upper tier of available free agents. Sources say they appear to have made switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran, who turned down a qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Monday, a top priority.
If the Rays decide to trade David Price, look for the Dodgers to make a strong move. Sources say the Rays had scouts looking hard at the Dodgers farm system late in the season.
— Paul Hagen
While the D-backs continue to search for bullpen help — particularly from the left side — they are not in on free agent Brian Wilson according to a baseball source.
The Arizona bullpen has blown 19 saves this year.
— Steve Gilbert
* Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told Daily Sports in Japan that the team has discussed signing free agent Hideki Matsui. Signing a minor league deal with the Rays in April, Matsui was later designated for assignment and then released over the summer.
* The Reds are looking into relievers Joakim Soria and Ryan Madson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Both pitchers are coming off Tommy John surgery, with Soria expected to be out until May and Madson likely ready at the start of the regular season.
* According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, free agent Shane Victorino is gaining interest from a handful of teams. The Reds and Indians are in the mix, along with the Rangers and Red Sox, who are both looking to improve their outfield.
* Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro is aggressively pursing a center fielder and has zoned in on Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton.
— Quinn Roberts
* According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz has requested a trade. Unhappy with his reduced role in San Francisco, it is believed that Schierholtz would welcome a move to a team with more opportunity.
* The Marlins are trying to shop Carlos Lee, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
* The Reds appear to be zeroing in on Juan Pierre, writes ESPN’s Jayson Stark. He also says the Dodgers look like the frontrunner on Shane Victorino, while teams that have checked in on Hunter Pence believe the Phillies will wait until the offseason.
* According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Reds are talking to the Cubs about acquiring Matt Garza.
— Quinn Roberts
* According to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic, D-backs General Manager Kevin Towers could pursue additional pitching prior to Tuesday’s deadline. He also hinted that one of the club’s infielders could be changing zip codes.
* Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that there is no guarantee Arizona will trade shortstop Stephen Drew. Right now, the D-backs are deciding whether to give the majority of playing time at shortstop to Drew or Willie Bloomquist.
* With a little more than a day left before the Trade Deadline, the Padres are continuing to weigh several offers for third baseman Chase Headley, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. However, San Diego is still unsure if they want to move him.
* According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Red Sox have made calls to the Braves and Rangers in the past two days in an effort to get rid of Josh Beckett’s contract. The Red Sox began talks, believing Beckett would waive his 10-and-5 right to play for either team.
* Falling two games below .500 after being swept by the Twins over the weekend, the Indians have told teams they would consider trading Justin Masterson, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
— Quinn Roberts
* While Ryan Dempster is expected to be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, it will not likely be to the Braves on Monday in exchange for young right-hander Randall Delgado, who was reportedly in line to be included in the deal.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that the Braves had reached an agreement to acquire Dempster from the Cubs earlier in the day, however the deal has not been officially completed. Because Dempster has played in the Majors for at least 10 years and has been with the same team for at least five years, he has the right to veto any deal.
Dempster, who leads the Major Leagues with a 2.11 ERA, declined to comment Monday on the rumors. He did deny reports that a deal had been completed on his Dempster Family Foundation Twitter account (@RyanDempsterFDN), saying, “THERE IS NO TRADE dont know where this info came from!”
“The team, the whole thing, was news to me — the team obviously is the one that leaked it out, or it came out of their city,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the Dempster-to-Braves reports. “Obviously, we can’t sit here and say it can’t happen. Anything can happen at this point. We have eight days until the Deadline. All the teams that are involved and want starters and need starters are all in play.”
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are still expected to be in the running for Dempster, with many suspecting he has told the Cubs that Los Angeles is the only team he’ll approve a trade to.
* The Marlins and Tigers completed a trade on Monday, with Miami sending second baseman Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers for Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, Brian Flynn. The teams agreed to swap competitive balance picks in 2013.
* Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is also reporting that the Red Sox are scouting Marlins starter Josh Johnson. However, no deal is close, according to Cafardo.
* In the biggest splash of the day, Ichiro Suzuki is headed to the Bronx in exchange for right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, who will both go to the Mariners.
“He’s done some great things in the league,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. “Offense, defense, there’s a lot of different ways he can beat you. He’s been as consistent as anyone.”
— Quinn Roberts
* With Brett Gardner out for the year, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Yankees have talked to the Phillies about Shane Victorino, the D-backs about Justin Upton and the Twins about Denard Span.
* According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, Jonathan Broxton of the Royals is a possible fit for the Giants, who are in the market for bullpen help.
* Cards GM John Mozeliak said that because his team has both short and long-term payroll flexibility, St. Louis will likely seek bullpen help at the deadline. Mozeliak also indicated that he is open to trading within the division as long as a top prospect isn’t involved.
* According to Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger, the next seven to 10 days will dictate if the Mets and GM Sandy Alderson will be buyers before the trade deadline.
— Quinn Roberts
* According to FOXSports’ Ken Rosenthal, Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster is receptive to being traded to a contender, with the Dodgers and then the Braves topping his list of desired landing spots.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com said the Dodgers are considered frontrunners to acquire Dempster, but the Cubs are exploring other suitors. Many officials are also questioning whether Dempster would prefer to go to the NL West or AL East.
* Olney also tweeted that the D-backs are interested in acquiring Padres third baseman Chase Headley, but strained relations between the two organizations could make it difficult to strike a deal.
* The Mets have also begun to “pay close attention” to Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The Royals closer has tallied 22 saves this season to put together a nice rebound campaign after struggling during the 2011 season.
*After the Brewers’ recent decision to skip Zack Greinke’s turn in the rotation, a few team executives have expressed concern in his health, tweeted Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
* Knobler also said that the Reds have focused in on looking for a leadoff hitter. With their leadoff hitters ranking dead last in the Majors in on-base percentage, the Reds have discussed the possibility of acquiring either Shane Victorino or Juan Pierre from the Phillies.
— Quinn Roberts